East Weymouth

Congregational Church,

​​​​​​​United Church of Christ


         We're heading toward the shortest day of the year. The day we live with the most darkness. 

We need light. Like a candle that shines through all darkness.


The great prophet Isaiah promises a light full of hope that will lift the Israelites out of despair.. Jerusalem went through destruction and forced migration and was in desperate need of rebuilding. The prophet proclaims that the darkness of despair has been lifted, and a new day of restoration has dawned. At last, the light has come! God’s light. He writes one of the most glorious scriptural passages on God’s light from Isaiah 60, words so beautiful that Handel set them to his finest music:

Isaiah 60:1-4 Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. {2} For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and the Lord’s glory will appear over you. {3} Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. {4} Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you.

Do you need a light?

Are you a light?

Soon, we will celebrate the newborn light of Christ, the manifestation of the Good News of God’s everlasting love. Of course, Christmas itself is a festival of lights. Trees are brought into homes and made radiant with brilliant lights; yards are  illumined. And maybe we’ll be enlightened when our families are reunited; or when our work colleagues gather around for holiday cheer and not just computers or fax machines. Or when bonds of love and friendship are strengthened, and new Christmas memories are brought to birth. I’m sure you’ve taken drives around our neighborhoods or parks where there have been magnificent displays of light this Christmas. Maybe some of you visit LaSallette, the Catholic shrine where people come from different states to see the magnificent display of more than 300,000 nativity lights.

Why are there so many lights?

Could it be because there’s so much darkness that needs to be overcome?

For Christians, what’s greater than spectacle or speculation is this: the belief that the glory of God shines in the little Christ child and is promised not just for shepherds or magi of ages past but for us. Even when all feels lost, and dreary and dark, we will arise, and eventually we will shine. Our light will come.

2,000 years ago -- It is by light that the savior is discovered from afar. In the Gospel, the magi are led to the child by the light of a star. Whether this was an actual celestial phenomenon, as the narrative suggests, or a metaphor for some other kind of enlightenment, it was by divine guidance that they found the child.

It is written in Matthew 2: 9-10:

When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. {10} When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.

We are surrounded by darkness in winter, but fortunately…there’s more.

There’s a saying by the Indian poet and philosopher Tagore who won the Nobel Peace Prize for literature. He writes: 

"The bird feels the light and sings while it is yet dark."

When the wise men make their journey to the Christ Child, we are reminded by Luke that God, by God’s tender mercy, will give us light, not some kind of flash in the pan light. Not some cheap glittering tinsel, not the best deal on strings of red, blue, green and yellow lights from Walmart.

No, a light which comes to us like the dawn.

Luke writes:

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us:

“to give light to those who sit in darkness,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.

 A light that brings us peace, not clamor.”

Luke writes and Zechariah says in his canticle about his new born son John the Baptist,

that dawn is what this light of God is like. More powerful than a candle light or houselights,

or  fireworks, or amusement park lights. Dawn, massive and immeasurable, all pervasive. God’s light has the power to not just shine in the darkness, but to banish it and emblazen our lives with signs of peace, hope, love and joy.

Brian Stoffregen describes this well:

"I believe that one of the great, unique features of Christianity is that it is a religion of God coming down to us, rather than having to raise ourselves up to a godly plane. Christianity is light shining in the darkness, which destroys the darkness. It is not the darkness trying to become light. It is being transformed by God's (de-)lightful presence among us."

The wisemen saw darkness, before finding that star. They were in the presence of an evil King Herod, plotting to kill new baby boys and bear destruction upon God’s newborn son. But you and I know the story turns out differently than this evil plotting man had planned. The magi go home “by another way” and avoid King Herod all together. They protect God’s light and go out and spread the good news.

Are you facing darkness? If the magi were standing before you today, I imagine them telling you, “Never mind the dark, Seek, find, trust in the road ahead, follow that star.” If Paul were standing here today, he would say to you and me, as he said so many years ago to the Thessalonians:

"Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness." [1] And John would say to us: “While you have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.”[2]

And I imagine the magi telling you and me.  “Spread God’s light. Be light to one another.”. You have the God given ability to light up someone’s darkened day.


Maybe some days you feel, like I have, that you’re overwhelmed and you don’t see anything bright? But even then, especially then, the light can pierce more sharply, shine more strikingly. When you take even the smallest steps to follow God’s call to you, you will have more than candlelight to illuminate your journey. You will have shining upon you the dawn of a God who loves you powerfully and who can banish your darkness....

You might tell yourself, like I do sometimes, that there’s not much in me that’s going to shine and make a difference for others. Don’t underestimate yourself. Marianne Willamson says it so well: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.'

 We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.

I close with this story about something brilliant that happened in a small town in Sweden for a small town in Denmark. During World War II, while Denmark was occupied by the Germans and Sweden was neutral, a seacoastal town in Helsingor, Denmark was occupied by the Nazis and under curfew. You might have heard of Helsingor, the home to the Helsingor castle which Shakespeare wrote about for his play, Hamlet. Anyway, at nighttime, the Nazi’s made all the people in the town of Halsingor to shut off it’s lights. Every night it was very dark and scary. Evil things seem to happen more easily in the dark. Imagine the cold Danish air, the cold, black sea, the torture, the repression, the endless nights. When would the lights ever turn on? Just a mile across the North Sea from this town is a town in Sweden, Helsingborg.

A narrow sound separates the two towns. Helsingborg is the closest point in Sweden to Denmark. So across the water, every night, the town in Sweden decided to keep its lights on so that it would serve as a beacon for the town in Denmark. Their lamp lighting was an act of solidarity and accompaniment. Those lamp lighters put themselves at more risk for attack with their resistance. But the town lights across the sea gave hope to the town living in darkness. Every night, the Danes could see because the lamps across the sound lightened their path and pierced through their gloom. Years later, the Danish town created a 20 ft tall gas torch in the town square that burns 24/7 as a thank you to their friends across the water. It is visible at night in Denmark, it is visible in Sweden.

Isaiah 9:1-2 “... The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.”


Let us pray for the coming of the light in each of our souls. Let us pray to be light for one another, in our homes, in our workplaces and in our world that craves for sunrises, in a world that cries for God’s hope and needs divine-inspired illumination. May we be Beacons, one to another.